FirstNetME is a statewide program to prepare Maine for the design, deployment and operation of the Nationwide Public Safety Broadband Network (NPSBN), the nation's first dedicated high-speed wireless broadband network for public safety.
To drive the state effort, a FirstNetME team has formed under the leadership of Lisa Leahy, FirstNet State Point of Contact for Maine and Associate Executive Director of the ConnectME Authority, and the guidance of the Maine Interoperable Communications Committee (MICC). With $1.04 million in initial federal funding from the State and Local Implementation Grant Program (SLIGP), the team is collaborating with FirstNet and the Maine Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) to develop a state network plan based on the needs and requirements of the Maine first responder community.
Maine has unique needs and coverage challenges, not the least being that it is the most rural state in the nation (2010 Census). Over 97 percent of Maine's land mass is rural (90% forest), with 3,500 miles of coastline. Over 60 percent of Maine's population lives in rural areas, some of which are unserved or underserved by broadband providers. Maine is home to five tribes and shares an international and bilingual border with Canada that extends 611 miles. Finally Maine has a high percentage of vulnerable populations, both elderly and low income. Maine is the oldest state in the nation and has the highest poverty rate in New England. Unique geography and demographics are all factors that impact public safety, requiring multiple network solutions and seamless operation.
To that end, network planning efforts are now under way to:
- Conduct an outreach program that informs Maine first responders and other public safety stakeholders on the FirstNetME initiative, and gathers information on their specific communications challenges, coverage needs and user requirements
- Hold initial state consultation with FirstNet, MICC members and key stakeholders (20 May 2015)
- Conduct team and MICC meetings
- Meet and discuss network needs and commonalities with public safety stakeholders in other New England states and Canadian border communities
- Inventory potential broadband assets in Maine, identifying broadband availability and required coverage areas; hardening, security and resiliency requirements, and priority and secondary users
- Continue FirstNet consultations and MICC and regional meetings
- Develop a RAN network plan for Maine in collaboration with FirstNet and the MICC
- Present the network plan to Governor Paul LePage for the opt-in, opt-out decision